Back in the days before the Internet, and especially before people started blogging, my world was limited. My contact with people was limited. I usually would need to meet someone in person and have many face-to-face conversations with them before I am privy to their deepest joy and sorrow. And when tragedies came upon a stranger, I would either hear it told to me in third-person perspective by a friend, or read about it in the newspapers. I don’t recall ever in those days, experiencing a tragedy along with a stranger, hearing it told in first-person perspective as it was happening to him.
This past weekend, the news of the tragic car accident that flipped Chad Cole’s world upside down came the usual way–through a friend of mine who knows him. Chad and his wife Sara, who was 8 months pregnant with their first child, was on their way to visit a relative along with her parents, when their van was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. Sara was killed in the accident, and they delivered Baby Amanda about an hour later, without a heartbeat or brain activity. The doctor did all they could and were giving Amanda 72 hours to show signs of brain activity. My friend asked me to pray for Chad and Baby Amanda. In her Facebook post, my friend also included the URL to Chad’s blog, and I clicked on the link to read it.
That was when I entered into Chad’s world and experienced his pain and sorrow as if they were mine. I read about his and Sarah’s joy when they first found out Sara was pregnant (after they’d tried for over a year to conceive), his anticipation of fatherhood for the past 8 months, and his reaction to the horrific event that happened this past Saturday along a highway in Michigan. I found myself grieving this stranger’s loss of his wife and best friend of 15 years; hanging by the thread of hope with him for the past 3 days as he waited for a sign of life in his little daughter whom they’d tried for over a year to conceive; and finally grieving the loss of that precious daughter along with him last night. I grieved the loss of his dream. I have never cried so much along with a stranger hundreds of miles away before. And it wasn’t just me. There were 25,000 people on Facebook who also grieved with Chad and his family. And I’m sure there were many more who didn’t have a Facebook account.
I was wondering why I would weep so much for a stranger when I remembered the passage in the Bible where we’re told to bear one another’s burden. I believe this was God’s answer to Chad’s prayer, and the prayers of thousands who had been touched by this tragedy in various ways. Chad’s burden of pain and grief was being distributed among many, because he could not bear it alone. I may never meet Chad, and he may never know of me other than the comment I left on his blog, but I am glad to have been one of many to bear Chad’s sorrow, to lift him up in prayers for the healing of his emotions, and the strength he’ll need to face life without Sara and Amanda. I believe this is what the Kingdom of God here on earth is like.
To read news articles about the accident and updates, click here.
To read Chad’s blog, click here.
With so much ice and snow accumulating for the past couple of weeks, the song “Slip Sliding Away” by Simon and Garfunkel (1977) pops into my mind every time I try to walk outside or drive around now. There’s nothing worse than an ice storm leaving a layer of ice, then snow on top of that ice, then sun melting that snow to form another layer of smooth ice. I should have learned to ice skate!
But the lyrics of this song isn’t really talking about slip sliding on ice though. It’s talking about the communication that needs to happen but never does because as the person gets close to that moment, they turn around and “slip sliding away.” It’s sad really. So many relationships are broken (and left broken) because people don’t talk for fear of either rejection, or the pain they have to face to get through it. If only they can see how much better things can be, when misunderstanding and misconceptions are exposed, and they can truly communicate heart to heart. But instead, they hold on to the misconception and continue to live in fear and insecurity.
I want to always have the courage to face my fears and look at the truth, for the sake of building and improving relationships, especially with my own husband and children. And the same goes for my relationship with God too. I’d rather be vulnerable with Him and come to know what He’s really like, than to continue believing in what others tell me He’s like. Life is too short to be wasted living crippled by miscommunication and misunderstanding. It’s much more free and rewarding to live in truth, no matter how much it hurts, or how risky it is.
Slip Sliding Away
By Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel
Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away
Whoah and I know a man, he came from my hometown
He wore his passion for his woman like a thorny crown
He said dolores, I live in fear
My love for you’s so overpowering, Im afraid that I will disappear
I know a woman, (who) became a wife
These are the very words she uses to describe her life
She said a good day ain’t got no rain
She said a bad day is when I lie in the bed
And I think of things that might have been
And I know a father who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons for the things he’d done
He came a long way just to explain
He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping
Then he turned around and he headed home again
Whoah God only knows, God makes his plan
The informations unavailable to the mortal man
We’re workin our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away
Chorus repeats 2x